delivered the opinion of the court:
Finality is generally a prerequisite to appellate jurisdiction. A final order is appealable as of right, and filing a notice of appeal is the jurisdictional step which initiates appellate review. 155 Ill. 2d R 301. The filing of a timely motion for sanctions in the trial court, however, renders a notice of appeal from such an order premature and precludes appellate jurisdiction. See Marsh v. Evangelical Covenant Church, 138 Ill. 2d 458, 468-69 (1990). No appeal may be taken from an otherwise final judgment when a motion for sanctions remains to be resolved, except where a trial court has made a written finding consistent with Supreme Court Rule 304(a) that there is no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal. Marsh, 138 Ill. 2d at 468. Rule 304(a) allows appeal from a final order which disposes of fewer than all the parties or claims if an express written finding is made that there is no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal. 155 Ill. 2d R. 304(a). We allowed leave to appeal in this case to answer the following arcane question of appellate jurisdiction arising from the interplay of these jurisdictional rules: Is a timely notice of appeal filed from a final order dismissing a complaint with prejudice, which includes a Rule 304(a) finding that there is no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal, effective to confer jurisdiction on the appellate court notwithstanding that a subsequent motion for sanctions is filed in the trial court?
The facts of this case are uncomplicated. On February 7, 1995, the circuit court of Cook County dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice and included in this otherwise final and appealable order the Rule 304(a) language that “there is no just reason or cause as to *8why enforcement or appeal should be stayed.” On March 7, the plaintiffs filed a timely notice of appeal. Two days later, on March 9, the defendants filed a timely motion for sanctions in the circuit court; on April 17, the defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ appeal, arguing that their motion for sanctions rendered the plaintiffs’ notice of appeal ineffective and divested the appellate court of jurisdiction. On May 11, the appellate court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the appeal. The circuit court subsequently denied the defendants’ motion for sanctions. Then, two years later, the appellate court reversed itself and dismissed the plaintiffs’ appeal after concluding that the defendants’ motion for sanctions had indeed rendered the plaintiffs’ notice of appeal premature.
There is no dispute that the circuit court order dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice was a final and appealable order. Nor is there any dispute that a motion for sanctions filed in the circuit court typically renders a notice of appeal from an otherwise appealable order premature. The issue is what effect, if any, did the circuit court’s Rule 304(a) finding in its order dismissing the complaint have on the appealability of the order in the face of a subsequent motion for sanctions.
Our appellate court is divided on the question. Some cases hold that a Rule 304(a) finding is entirely without effect in an order which is otherwise appealable as of right, and thus cannot later support jurisdiction over such an order when a subsequent claim like a motion for sanctions is filed. See, e.g., Waters v. Reingold, 278 Ill. App. 3d 647, 653 (1996); Pines v. Pines, 262 Ill. App. 3d 923, 929 (1994). Other cases hold that a notice of appeal from an order which includes a Rule 304(a) finding remains effective, even after a motion for sanctions is filed and despite that the finding was unnecessary when *9made. See, e.g., American National Bank & Trust Co. v. Bus, 212 Ill. App. 3d 133,136 (1991); Cashmore v. Builders Square, Inc., 207 Ill. App. 3d 267, 273 (1990).
This court has not expressly reached the question but came close in Marsh v. Evangelical Covenant Church, 138 Ill. 2d at 468-69, where the court held that a notice of appeal was premature because it was filed before the trial court had disposed of a motion for sanctions. The court suggested that a different result might have obtained had there been a Rule 304(a) finding in the order. Marsh, 138 Ill. 2d at 468 (“no appeal may be taken from an otherwise final judgment entered on a claim when a [motion for sanctions] claim remains to be resolved, absent a finding pursuant to Rule 304(a) that there is no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal” (emphasis added)).
Here we address the question directly and must balance competing institutional interests. We want to discourage piecemeal litigation in an effort to preserve scarce judicial resources. At the same time, we recognize the judicial economy in allowing a trial court to make a Rule 304(a) finding in anticipation of a motion for sanctions. In the interests of judicial economy, we hold that the better rule is to permit such a practice: a notice of appeal filed from a final order including a Rule 304(a) finding — though unnecessary to render the order appealable — allows the appellate court to retain jurisdiction even where a subsequent motion for sanctions is filed and is pending in the trial court. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the appellate court and remand to that court for further proceedings.
Reversed and remanded.